Imagine if the greatest MLB third baseman of all-time Mike Schmidt (left) and Rollins could have played together on the left side of the Phils’ infield!
By Barbara Harrison
Jimmy Rollins is now patrolling shortstop at Dodger Stadium, hitting .273 with a home in eight games.
He was a 21-year-old September call-up when he made his Major League debut against the Florida Marlins on Sept. 17, 2000.
Wearing No. 29, Rollins played shortstop and batted second for the Phillies behind fellow prospect Reggie Taylor.
His first time up, the switch-hitting Rollins walked batting left-handed facing right-hander Chuck Smith.
In his next at-bat, he tripled to right field off Smith for the first of his Phillies record 2,306 hits.
Rollins wound up going 2-for-4 with two runs and a stolen base in his big-league debut and finished that September hitting .321.
That was the start of a great run with the Phillies, as he became their starting shortstop in 2001 and nothing changed until the week before Christmas 2014 when he was traded to the Dodgers for two minor-league pitchers.
Here are NJ.com’s picks for the top 10 Phillies shortstops of all-time:
1. JIMMY ROLLINS
Rollins gets the nod as No. 1 over Larry Bowa, but it was much closer call than some may think. Why? Bowa was that great of a fielder and Rollins loses points for his occasional lack of hustle plus his career-long desire to value power numbers and hits over walks and on-base percentage. Despite these criticisms, Rollins was a complete player who brought a ton of energy when he was playing as a high level. He’s just a .267 career hitter and never hit .300 in a full season, but he averaged 15 homers, 32 steals and 34 doubles during his 14 seasons as a starter. He also deserves a ton of credit for being a consistently great defensive shortstop even when he wasn’t hitting. Rollins did it all for the Phillies, who had a great run winning five division titles in a row and World Series from 2007-11. He was the NL MVP in 2007, won four Gold Gloves, won a Silver Slugger and played in three All-Star Games (although none since 2005). Hall of Famer? Not yet. Phillies great? Definitely.
2. LARRY BOWA
A generation of Phillies fans only know Bowa as a fiery manager/coach and entertaining baseball analyst, but in his day he really could play. He was an all-time great defensively and made himself in a pretty good singles hitter after going from a right-handed hitter early in his career to a switch-hitter. In the 1970s, Bowa and Dave Concepcion of the Cincinnati Reds were the two best NL shortstops. Bowa played in five All-Star games, won two Gold Gloves and batted .264 as a Phillie from 1970-81. He hit a career-best .305 in 1975 and batted .375 in the 1980 World Series. He had no power, but stole bases, averaging 24 during his Phillie seasons. Bowa finished his career playing for the Chicago Cubs and Mets, then later managed and coached the Phillies. He’s currently their bench coach.
3. GRANNY HAMNER
Hammer was in his third full season and just 23 when hitting .270 with 11 homers and 82 RBIs for the Phillies’ famed 1950 Whiz Kids, who won the pennant. His 16 seasons as a Phillie from 1944-59 rank second in franchise history behind Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt’s 18 from 1972-89. Hamner is 10th for the Phillies all-time in games played and 11th in hits, but he was their starting shortstop in just six seasons — from 1948-52 and in 1956. He played second base from 1953-54 and in 1957, and was a sub in his other seasons. Hamner wasn’t a great fielder, but he has some big offensive seasons, topping 80 RBIs four times and hitting a career-best 21 homers in 1953. Three times he finished in the top 10 in the league in hits, but six times he was in the top 5 for errors, twice finishing first (in ’52 as a shortstop and in ’53 playing short and second).
4. DAVE BANCROFT
The 5-foot-9 switch-hitter had his best seasons after leaving the Phillies, but hit .294 on their 1915 World Series team and he’s their only Hall of Fame shortstop. Nicknamed Beauty, Bancroft was a Phillie from 1915-20. He was known as a great fielder, but hit .279 for his 16-year major-league career. Bancroft was traded in June 1920 due to a long-time feud with Gavvy Cravath, his manager at the time and previously a Phillies teammate. Following the trade, he hit .300 five times playing for the New York Giants (1920-23, 1930) and Boston Braves (1924-29). He was a member of the Giants’ 21 and ’22 World Series championship teams. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1971 by the Veteran’s Committee.
5. DICK BARTELL
Bartell’s claim to fame was he represented the Phillies as the starting National League shortstop in the first All-Star Game on July 6, 1933 at Chicago’s Comiskey Park. He was a much better hitter than fielder in an 18-year career from 1927-43 in which he was with the Phillies from 1931-34. He hit .295 in 587 games for the Phillies and .270 over his career, but he finished among the top 5 in the NL for shortstop errors 11 times. His best offensive season for the Phillies came in 1932 when he hit .308 with 48 doubles, one homer and 53 RBIs. After leaving the Phillies, Bartell played in one more All-Star Game as a New York Giant.
6. MICKEY DOOLAN
After changing his name from Michael Doolittle as a young adult, the Ashland, Pa., native and Villanova alum became the Phillies’ first star shortstop. He was a Phillie for the first nine seasons of his 13-year big-league career, from 1905-13, and he captained them his final five seasons. He hit just .236 as a Phillie, but usually stole between 14-18 bases every season and was one of the best defensive shortstops of his era. From 1906-13, Doolan led the NL in assists and double plays five times, led the league in putouts four times and fielding percentage once.
7. BOBBY WINE
Wine had a very good glove and a great arm, but couldn’t hit a lick playing for the Phillies from 1960-68. He hit .215 with 30 homers in 12 big-league seasons, .216 with 23 homers as a Phillie. Wine won a Gold Glove in 1963, but platooned with Ruben Amaro during the Phillies’ infamous ’64 season that ended with one of baseball’s worst September chokes ever. Wine played his final four seasons for the Montreal Expos after joining them in the expansion draft.
8. KEVIN STOCKER
A switch-hitting Phillies shortstop from 1993-97, Stocker is best remembered for becoming a big part of the Phillies’ 1993 World Series team after getting a midseason promotion from the minors. Stocker hit .324 in 70 games after debuting by playing all 20 innings in a July 7 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was 0-for-6 with two walks, a sacrifice and an error in his first game, but was 9-for-18 over his next four and went onto solidify a position in which the Phillies had tried three other starters through early July — Juan Bell, Mariano Duncan and Kim Batiste. Stocker and Mickey Morandini were a pretty decent middle infield duo for five seasons. Stocker’s time with the Phillies ended in November 1997 when he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Bobby Abreu.
9. IVAN DEJESUS
DeJesus was the lone return for the Phillies in their worst trade ever. In a deal with the Chicago Cubs that involved two starting shortstops and a minor leaguer, the Phillies acquired DeJesus for Bowa and a prospect who would become a Hall of Fame second baseman (and their current manager), Ryne Sandberg. DeJesus hit just .249 as a Phillie from 1982-84, but finished in the top 5 for NL shortstops in fielding percentage twice in those seasons. He hit .254 in 1983, a season in which the Phillies won the NL pennant.
10. (tie) HEINIE SAND
Sand was a .258 hitter with 18 homers playing his entire big-league career with the Phillies from 1923-28. He led NL shortstops in errors twice, but he was in the top 5 in fielding percentage five times, finishing first once. He batted a career-best 299 in 1927, but slumped to a career-low .211 in 1928. Sand was sold to the St. Louis Cardinals after the ’28 season and wound up playing his final six seasons in the minors.
10. (tie) DICKIE THON
Thon hit .259 with 32 homers as the Phillies starting shortstop from 1989-91, all losing seasons. His best season with the Phillies was ’89 when he hit .271 with 15 homers and 60 RBIs. Before joining the Phils, he was a rising star who hit 20 homers for the 1983 Houston Astros, but he never was the same after being hit in the face while batting against Mets right-hander Mike Torrez in an April 1984 game.